Stepping Out 

By Ellen Grace O’Brian 

Nothing contributes more to unfolding our divine potential than “stepping out of our little corner,” reaching out beyond our personal needs alone, and opening to abundance for uplifting others. This is how we enter the stream of divine grace in its fullest expression. We open ourselves to be divine instruments of healing and blessing. When we do, grace overflows as supply, meeting every real need on time and in abundance. The immutable spiritual law is: Individual prosperity cannot be separated from the good of all. Spiritual law always rests on wholeness.

It is not uncommon to think, “Once I take care of myself and my family, then I’ll find a way to contribute to others.” It’s true that it’s a mistake to get so involved with serving the world that we neglect our family and those entrusted to our care. Yet, without realizing that all life is one interconnected whole, we can spend our entire lifetime trying to provide solely for our personal needs and wants and those of our dear ones. It is endless.

The step we take into serving life comes through the activity of grace itself. Life is always aiming to support us, to bring about the actualization of our innate potential. At some point, we wake up beyond our little corner of self-concern—our heart opens and compassion begins to flow like a river.

My daughter, who was our first born, broke open my heart. The love I felt for her was beyond anything I had ever experienced—tenderness, caring and grave responsibility for this young life. Even though I was a very young and inexperienced mother, certain things are both soulful and instinctual. I wanted her to live. I wanted her to be healthy, happy and free from suffering. I was so grateful that, when she was hungry, I could feed her. When she was sick, I could take her to a doctor.

This is what happened to my heart: I took what I was experiencing here, with this tiny, beautiful little girl, and extended it there—across the nation and across the world.

I felt every mother and every child on the earth in my heart. I knew other mothers loved their children just like I did mine, and I felt what it would be like if you could not provide for them. What if I had no food for this child? What if she was suffering and I could not help her? The feeling was so clear that I knew I needed to act on it. I took a simple step and volunteered for UNICEF, the United Nations organization for supporting children worldwide. It gave me a way that I could take my heart hereand apply it there.

Serving others became for me the first step toward truly prospering, which has only become richer and more soul-satisfying over the years. Many of the important life and professional skills I learned during my time serving through UNICEF were what I needed for my next step, when I turned to the vocation of teaching Kriya Yoga. The initial impetus of my heart to serve parents and children over the years has blossomed, at our meditation center, into our youth spiritual education program as well as into an educational nonprofit organization to teach skills of nonviolence and mindfulness to at-risk children in schools and mothers in prison. It’s amazing what can flow from the inspiration of our hearts, our willingness to act, and the presence of grace.

Sometimes people don’t open themselves to being instruments for greater good because they haven’t understood how life itself will provide what is needed to accomplish the necessary good. They don’t know how resourceful life is and how resourceful they are. Here is the secret: We can’t find out until we step out.

Ellen Grace O’Brian is the author of The Jewel of Abundance and director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose, CA. Ellen is a yogacharya(an esteemed yoga teacher), a radio host and an award-winning poet who weaves poetry into her teachings on spiritual matters, pointing to the mystical experience beyond words and thought. Ordained by a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, she has been teaching Kriya Yoga philosophy and practice nationally and internationally for over three decades. Visit her online at    

Excerpted from the book The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga

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